Chapter

Remote memory and temporal lobe epilepsy

Mary Pat McAndrews

in Epilepsy and Memory

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199580286
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739408 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199580286.003.0013
Remote memory and temporal lobe epilepsy

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Research over the past decade has firmly established that the ability to retrieve remote information, particularly personally experienced autobiographical memories, is impaired in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy or excisions (TLE). Despite a long-held model of memory consolidation that suggested only recent memories would be impacted by medial temporal damage, clinical neuropsychologists working with TLE patients are readily impressed by their assertions of poor recollection of personal events such as family vacations; even when prompted by descriptions and reminders they report that it simply doesn't ‘feel’ like a lived experience. This type of memory has been found to be particularly sensitive to disruption in patients with TLE and, based on lesion and functional imaging data, it is hypothesized that it reflects damage to the medial temporal lobe (MTL) and most prominently the hippocampus, which serves as a critical ‘hub’ of a network that supports autobiographical recall. This chapter presents evidence in support of that hypothesis, and discusses questions regarding retrieval of semantic versus experiential remote memory, specification of the processes compromised in MTL damage that gives rise to autobiographical memory deficits, and the relationship between damage and patterns of functional activation in autobiographical memory networks of healthy individuals and patients with TLE.

Keywords: remote information retrieval; autobiographical memories; memory impairment; medial temporal lobe damage; hippocampus

Chapter.  9026 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuroscience

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